Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Drinking Sand in Iraq

I love my country more than I dislike George Bush, so it’s tempting to believe Michael Barone’s contention today that, in Iraq, “instead of accepting defeat and inviting chaos, we may be able to achieve a significant measure of success.”

Tempting but not sustainable--the crumbs we are being fed about local gains by Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon in their New York Times OpEd piece last week and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Meet the Press yesterday are not enough to nourish hope for overall improvement in that shattered nation.

Even in his upbeat assessment, Gates admitted that “the problem when we would go after Al Qaeda and insurgents before is that when we would hit them in one place, they’d squirt to another place. For the first time the commander has enough forces that he can attack all of their basic locations at the same time, so it’s much more difficult for them to squirt out and escape...”

For now. But how long will we have to keep the troops we have there in place and how many more will it take to stop the “squirting” all over Iraq? And how much good will local pacification be if the central government fails, as it has so far, to come together even on the simplest issues?

There is so much Iraq Fatigue in the U.S. that a change in the narrative is like an oasis in the desert, but we can’t let ourselves be sidetracked by another mirage and end up trying to drink the sand.

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